Second, there’s no denying that there are valid reasons to pursue lower legal immigration numbers. Successfully integrating new immigrants depends on how many people are coming in, the length of time they are present, and the strength of the host country’s assimilating institutions. Without even modest immigration reductions, America might be batting 0-3 on these requirements. It’s also hard to be confident in how “merit-based” admissions will truly be if our government keeps letting in a million people a year. And if additional immigrants loosen the tight labor market, how much of the present economic boomlet will continue to benefit workers at the lower end?
Trump would no doubt like to live up to the line he added to the State of the Union address about permitting “people to come into our country in the largest numbers ever, but they have to come in legally.” But as he tries to repair his relations with the Republican donor class and present the “abolish ICE” Democrats as the real immigration radicals, he is unlikely to be soft in his immigration rhetoric during the height of the 2020 campaign. Talking tough on immigration while admitting large numbers of immigrants, as Kushner’s plan would permit, is a bad look.